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Campaign advertising: development guidelines

When embarking on an advertising campaign, it is essential to get the best creative work and to buy good value media space, which will result in the most effective communication to the identified target audience(s).

Some key success factors

  • Allow enough time.
  • Know and understand your target audience.
  • Agree on a clear creative brief and make sure the agency understands it.
  • Agree on the timetable and budget for the campaign.
  • Research creative ideas development.
  • Have a comprehensive media brief.
  • Review and assess the campaign.

Creative brief

Preparing a creative brief

A good brief is essential to achieve the desired result. It is a creative document that should stimulate providers to do their best work. Preparing a brief requires getting input from relevant people and discussing campaign objectives, advertising objectives, and other requirements.

The brief itself should contain information on:

  • background information and/or issues
  • target audience(s)
  • the key benefit (of the product/policy/change etc)
  • objectives of the campaign
  • objectives of the advertising task
  • timetable
  • budget (overall, including media)
  • any mandatories/constraints
  • how the campaign will be assessed i.e. the evaluation criteria and pre/post-campaign research targets.

Any additional information such as background research, documents, statistics, etc, should be included as appendices to the brief.

Briefing the advertising agency

The creative brief is usually given to the advertising agencies that will devise and present creative and media proposals and quotations.

For advertising campaigns valued at $10,000 or less (exclusive of GST):

Once approval to proceed with the campaign has been given by the agency's communications manager, quotations are obtained from service providers listed in the Register of Communications Consultants and Service Providers.

For advertising campaigns valued at more than $10,000 but less than $100,000 (exclusive of GST): Once approval to proceed with the campaign has been given by the head of the relevant agency or his/her delegate after advice from that agency's communications manager and the Director Communications Policy, a minimum of three quotations are obtained from service providers listed in the Register of Communications Consultants and Service Providers.

For advertising campaigns valued at $100,000 and over (exclusive of GST): Once tender specifications and expenditure are approved, a public tender is conducted EXCEPT where an exemption from the Treasurer’s Instructions has been granted by the Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance OR where an approved pre-existing contract for communications services exists with a provider. Pitches addressing the creative brief are made to the Tender Evaluation Panel set up by the client.

Assessing advertising agency proposals

A set of selection criteria to be used in assessing proposals and quotations should be agreed in advance before advertising agencies present their proposals.

The creative work will be aimed at the target audience(s) as outlined in the brief, not internal communications staff or Ministers, so for major advertising campaigns (greater than $50,000) consider putting concepts into research among the target audience.


Have a realistic timetable for the development and implementation of an advertising campaign. The timetable may influence the media choices.

It is reasonable to give an agency on average four to six weeks to develop and present their ideas. While advertisements can be produced quickly in response to an urgent request or emergency, media and creative options are generally limited by such time constraints.


There are a number of costs associated with an advertising campaign. These fall into four main categories:

  • Creative (developing creative concepts and a media strategy)
  • Production (producing materials to support the campaign)
  • Media buying (buying and placing advertising)
  • Research (social market research, concept testing, evaluation, etc).

The budget should be broadly agreed in advance and structured flexibly to cope with changes and developments as the campaign proceeds.

Media brief

As part of its proposals the advertising agency will suggest which medium (or media) should be used to run the campaign and will back this with statistical support. The media to be used should align with the creative concepts. Also ensure that potential added value (eg editorial support, ROS (run of station), quotation discounts is considered)

The advertising agency should check the lead times for booking and production, copy availability, approvals procedures and booking requirements and ensure they meet your needs. Many media, such as television, have long deadlines for booking and there may be cost penalties for campaigns committed after the set dates. Build these lead times into your overall campaign timetable.

The advertising agency will then present a media-buying brief linked to the creative brief, setting out media objectives, audiences and planned assessments. Once the media-buying plan has been approved, the advertising agency has responsibility for:

  • booking and placing all media
  • issuing the media with material instructions
  • dispatching material to the media
  • providing the financial schedule to the client
  • monitoring booked activity
  • compiling a monthly invoice/statement
  • issuing post analysis and tear sheets to the client.

Campaign review and assessment

Set criteria in advance with the advertising agency for reviewing creative work and for media-buying performance.

Always ensure that a formal review takes place to analyse effectiveness and establish ROI (return on investment). Although monitoring and evaluation may be conducted in-house or by another service provider, it is useful to keep your advertising agency in the loop.